Views: 63 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-01-13 Origin: Site
What Is Nonalcoholic Beer?
Nonalcoholic beers are simply beers that have either had the alcohol removed or have been brewed to contain less alcohol than the legal limit. By law, beverages can claim to be nonalcoholic as long as they don’t exceed the limit of 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Before you freak out, be aware there are trace amounts of alcohol in many everyday foods and beverages. It’s a natural product of fermentation. A study published in August of 2016 in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found measurable alcohol in bananas, apple juice, and bread. A nonalcoholic beer (or even several of them) is not going to get you buzzed. But it can take the place of boozy beers, giving you an option for when you want beer without the hangover.
How Is Nonalcoholic Beer Made?
Beer is made by fermenting grains, which means that microorganisms, usually yeast, break down the sugar in grains to alcohol and other by-products. Some old-fashioned brands make nonalcoholic beer by preventing fermentation, which also happens to prevent flavor development. Others brands cook the beer post-fermentation to burn off the alcohol. Unfortunately, neither of these legacy methods produces great-tasting beers. To compensate, manufacturers sometimes add sugar or high fructose corn syrup, which leads to a cloyingly sweet beer.
Brewers on the leading edge of nonalcoholic craft beer use high-tech, top-secret methods to produce beer that tastes more like traditional craft beer without adding sweeteners. The flavor is fresher, bolder, and often indistinguishable from the alcohol-containing craft beers that inspired them.
How Does Nonalcoholic Beer Compare to Regular Beer?
Taking the alcohol out of beer does make it healthier, but that doesn’t mean you should drink it to excess. Most nonalcoholic beers offer very little nutritional value, and are mostly carbohydrates (usually on par with regular beer). Their lack of alcohol does mean they tend to be lower in calories, though.
What is great about nonalcoholic beers relative to alcoholic beer is that you'll often find a Nutrition Facts panel and an ingredient list, which you can review to decide whether that particular drink aligns with your personal goals. For example, a handful of nonalcoholic beers do contain added sugar, which should be consumed mindfully. Alcoholic drinks don’t typically list this information, so we’re somewhat in the dark about what we are drinking.
Is Nonalcoholic Beer Healthy?
Beyond looking at the number of calories, grams of carbohydrates, and whether there’s added sugar, you should find a nonalcoholic beer you actually like. That will help decrease your alcohol use long term. And cutting alcohol use is definitely good for your health. A study published in the journal The Lancet in August 2018 concluded, Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.
Over the years, other studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may be beneficial for health. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that even light to moderate drinking may have negative health effects, particularly in the context of cancer. Organizations including the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research state that for cancer prevention, it is best to not drink alcohol.
In addition to avoiding alcohol, there may be other benefits associated with nonalcoholic beer. Some Olympic athletes have embraced it as a sports drink, according to NPR. A randomized controlled trial published in the journal Nutrients in June 2016 found that nonalcoholic beer may be an effective recovery beverage after exercise. Some small studies indicate that nonalcoholic beer may reduce inflammation and even common colds. Those studies are encouraging, but I don't think that enough evidence exists to draw conclusions at this time.
Does Nonalcoholic Beer Have Any Health Risks?
It’s important to remember that nonalcoholic beers do contain some alcohol. And that 0.0 percent to 0.5 percent ABV number you see on the label is no iron-clad guarantee. There have been issues in the past with nonalcoholic beers found to exceed the legal limit of 0.5 percent ABV. One study found that 30 percent of the nonalcoholic beers tested had more alcohol by volume than was indicated on their label, and six of the beers tested contained up to 1.8 percent alcohol by volume.
There are some people who should be mindful that these products do contain small amounts of alcohol. There’s some debate over whether people who are pregnant should include these beverages.
Others who may want to proceed with caution include anyone navigating a substance use disorder. The look, aroma, and flavor of nonalcoholic beers can trigger cravings for alcohol for some people in addiction recovery.
Whether or not to enjoy nonalcoholic beers really depends on the individual’s comfort level. Everybody is different. For some people, these beverages can help support their recovery journey. Others find it triggering. For many, it changes over time and what may be triggering early on in sobriety is helpful later. Knowing yourself is key to knowing whether nonalcoholic beers are a good choice for you.